Education

CONTINUING our review of the School Reports of the country, we come to those of the Middle States, among which we shall include also that of their nearest Western neighbor, since in the three great commonwealths of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio lies the centre of gravity of our Union. As they sway or rest, so sways or rests the national policy, and how they are educating their youth is therefore of truly national importance. We have no report from the State of Delaware, and of the city reports we have only those of New York and Brooklyn, the latter of which we have already noticed. As it is the custom with the school boards of the larger cities and towns to make separate reports to their own citizens, and as there seem to be no abstracts of these throughout the State reports under consideration, our remarks must not be taken as applying to such important centres as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Troy, Pittsburg, and the like, for the data in regard to the method and extent of their public instructions are not before us.

The expenditure of New York, Penneylvaina, New Jersey, and Ohio for free education during the year 1872-73 was over $29,000,000; but as the number of school-children enrolled was over twentyseven hundred thousand, this apparently immense allowance gives after all but about $10.50 a year to every child.1 This covers the cost of buildings, repairs, fuel, and apparatus, so that in fact only about $5.00 a year is spent in tuition for each pupil enrolled in the public schools of all grades in those enormously rich communities. To this it may be objected that as the average attendance is far below the enrollment, there is really spent much more than $10.00 a year on every child. But this is merely to say that if a coarse and ill-cooked meal be prepared for a hundred children, and only fifty or sixty partake of it, then these have really been as well fed as though one half the cost of the meal had gone to making it better in quality. At present prices it is doubtful whether satisfactory educational results can be obtained for anything less than an expenditure of $25.00 a year for each child enrolled.

With two or three millions of children under their charge, and with ten times these millions in money to render an account of, we cannot ho surprised at a certain staid and sober and almost depressed tone observable in the authors of the reports we are now considering, and which is in marked contrast to the cheerful confidence which pervades those from New England. The only exception is in the report from the superintendent of Pennsylvania, which, amid the tame monotony of these weary pages, comes in like a fresh breeze, bold, earnest, bracing, and strong. He wants to rouse up the Pennsylvanians, and truly there seems to he need of it. More than one third of their school buildings are without proper out-houses, and many hundreds have none at all ! Over one sixth are reported as having only furniture “injurious to health,” nearly one half are “without apparatus worth mentioning,” and only one tenth have grounds “ neatly fenced and freed from rubbish.” “Of the 15,003 teachers receiving certificates to teach during the year, only 374 were found to have a thorough knowledge of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and grammar, and that practical preparation for the profession which insures success. If to this number there be added all who hold professional and normal school diplomas, it will be found that out of 19,057 teachers we have only about 2500 fully qualified for their work.” In Pennsylvania there are seventy-five thousand children growing up in ignorance, and the superintendent thinks that a compulsory law could not be passed and would not be obeyed. Yet he recommends as feasible a law of which the essence seems to us as compulsory as any. The law prohibiting the employment of children under thirteen “ is a dead letter,” and the manufacturers declare that if they are forced to employ adults to do the work now performed by children, their factories must close. Only five per cent, of the youth of Pennsylvania study anything beyond the elements, and “out of a population of four millions there are only twenty-five hundred in college.” The nerves of the Pennsylvania women ought to be in sound condition and their health vigorous, for there is no State high school system to stimulate and exhaust them, and only fourteen hundred and fifty girls, in over half a million enrolled, are in female colleges or collegiate academies.

Mr. Wickersham praises highly the organization and efficiency of the Schools in Pittsburg, but he finds that those of Philadelphia lack adequate supervision. More high schools are also needed in that city, which now has only one for boys, and for girls nothing but a girls' high and normal school, — a wretched combination which Boston has lately had the good sense to abandon, and in its place to establish for girls a high school and a normal school both. Mr. Wickersham seems to favor coeducation, and from the fact that various separate high schools for the sexes are being consolidated into mixed schools, it is evidently growing in popularity throughout the State. In some school districts of Pennsylvania, women are paid as much as men for doing the same educational work, and since this report was: published they have been made eligible by law to every educational office in the State, even including that of State Superintendent. This is the more remarkable in that the preference for men over women teachers has until recently been so decided that even yet the number of teachers of both sexes is nearly equal. Huntingdon County reports that “the prejudice against women teachers still exists, but is vanishing; ” which is not Surprising when we find those of the ot her sex reproved for “ spending their vacations in lounging about the country stores.” One young pedagogue is recorded who “ could not remember that he had ever road a book.” Mr. Wickersham advocates industrial education more fully and courageously than perhaps any other superintendent. He thinks that not only should industrial drawing he taught in all the public schools, but that separate schools for artisans, and also departments for technical instruction in connection with high schools, should be established in all the larger towns of the State. In view of the fact that of criminals only twenty per cent, are illiterate, while “over eighty per cent, have never learned any trade or mastered any skilled labor,” this is the most important recommendation for the diminution of crime that we have yet seen.

The superintendent of New York begins by saying that “the large sum of money raised and spent in our schools (over $10,000,000) should not too hastily be taken as the measure of efficiency.” Over 324,000 youth of the State are not attending any school, and though the school enrollment is seventy-nine per cent, of the whole population of school age, the average daily attendance is only thirty-three percent. There are over 28,000 teachers in the State, of whom three fourths are women. Sixteen seventeenths of them are licensed by local officers, the remainder by normal schools and the State superintendent, and one third of them are new every year. The cost of the teachers’ institutes averaged $1.81 for each teacher attending them, a sura so small that the amount of knowledge gained as its equivalent must be microscopic indeed. In the normal schools 6377 teachers were trained during more or less of the school year, at an expense of about $195,000— the cost of instructing 1040 students at Harvard College for the same time being about $425,000. The appropriation for these normal schools was opposed in 1872 by those who were interested in sustaining the private academies which undertake to have “ teachers’ classes.” To the just disapprobation of the superintendent, $125,000 was voted to these latter, although they charge tuition fees, and although they do their work so wretchedly that the commissioner for Saratoga County says, “I do not say that all these academies are had. Simply I do not know one that is good. They fill the teachers’ ranks with those who are incompetent, and whose displays of ignorance, even upon the most elementary subjects, are astounding.” The State thus “ virtually supports two systems: the common schools, which are open to all, and the academies, which are private and sectarian, and kept for private profit.” But as long as New York does not sustain a high school system, it seems to us that it will have to continue this anomaly to save its own self-respect. The State superintendent does not approve, of taxing the people of a State for anything except the elements of education. In New York, any district which wishes a high school has to bear the whole additional expense itself. Consequently only eighty-one out of twelve thousand districts have organized high or academic schools, and the population is therefore left to the make-shifts of private institutions. It is true that only about one in ten of the lower grade pupils ever takes a high school course, but it is just that tenth one who carries forward the civilization of his community. High schools, moreover, are the only nurseries for teachers that can ever approximate to supplying the demand, and this for the reason that young people can attend them while boarding at home, which for many in the normal schools cannot be the case. With eight State normal schools to twelve thousand districts, it is no wonder that, as the board of the normal school at Buffalo puts it, “the hope of sending a trained teacher into every district, of even a single county, seems desperate.” Young people, it says, would he “ frightened at the suggestion of spending two years’ time in preparation for such schools as they propose to teach,” But we are persuaded that it is not so much the “two years ” as the $200 a year for board and washing that frightens them — $200 a year for the struggling classes whence these teachers come being equivalent to $2000 a year to the classes above them. The New York superintendent alludes, as do all others, to the “vital importance of thorough supervision to the success of any system of public instruction,” but he is satisfied with the arrangement which gives him one hundred and four commissioners chosen by popular election. He has found the large majority of them “ able and faithful men,” but they “should be required to give their undivided attention to the duties of their ofiice.” The commissioner for Saratoga County differs from him. “Remove commissioners,” he says, “ from political influence. Place them where they cannot run their office with a view to future election, and better examinations and supervision will at once follow.”

The superintendent of the State of Ohio finds that “ the educational effort of the State during the year has been attended with gratifying results.” The total of expenditure was over $7,400,000, and yet there was a balance on hand of $2,712,707, which, it will occur to the reader, might better have been spent than hoarded. There are no State normal schools in Ohio, only private institutions where those intending to teach are supposed to be able to receive training for it. The result is probably not more satisfactory than in the State of New York. There is no high school system proper in Ohio. The schools are divided into primary and high, but the latter are probably only the New England grammar schools with some advanced classes added. A very interesting and valuable table is given among the Ohio statistics of the number of pupils engaged in Sach study. It Is the only instance of the kind we have met with, and should, we think, be imitated by all the other States ; for better than anything else, this would afford an accurate idea of the education which is being given to the youth of the country. We wish we could enlarge upon it, but our space will not permit, Suffice it to say that out of 505,709 children who study reading, 432,423 study arithmetic, 200,260 study geography, 148,542 study English grammar, 123,812 study singing, 64,415 study drawing, 45,984 study map-drawing (!) while but 16,704 study United States history, and only 449 general history! Truly, a cheering prospect for the political intelligence and patriotism of a universal suffrage country ! The classics and the natural sciences are almost equally nowhere. In short, the onlv hopeful sign on the list we find to he that 18,085 study German, and but 223 French. The State superintendent has a thoughtful essay upon what is the education the State should permit in order most to benefit society and the individual. Unfortunately, he ends his answer by saying that his “ proposed curriculum of studies will not and cannot he pursued by most of those who attend our public schools, but it formulates the minimum of acquirement which every conscientious teacher should seek to obtain ; ” and so the question of what the masses should learn is left as much in the dark as ever. It may he remarked, however, that not even for the teacher does this superintendent propose any knowledge of history other than that of the United States. In Ohio, expulsion can only take effect during one term, and no text-book is changed for three years after adoption. The number of pupils in private schools in Ohio decreased in 1872-73 over three eighths, and this, in our opinion, is as it should be. With the mighty resources of a whole State behind them, the public schools should be so superior that private schools could not compete with them. On the other hand, unless the public school system is enlightened and flexible enough to adapt itself to individual gifts and tendencies, it must become a fearful Procrustean bed far the youthful intellect, and national mediocrity must be its inevitable result. Co-education is growing in popularity in Ohio as in Pennsylvania, and with the approval of its superintendent. Like Mr. Wickersham, also, he earnestly desires that the line might be drawn between real colleges and colleges that are such only in name, and that the former might be brought to some common or approximate graduating standard. The experiment in Cleveland and Dayton of appointing women as special superintendents of primary instruction, and as principals in other public schools, gives the highest satisfaction, the movement having “proved even more prolific of good than was anticipated.” In Ohio there are nearly forty thousand school officers, which, as in Vermont, sufficiently accounts for the crude state of its public school system.

The superintendent of New Jersey gives the best arrangement of a statistical summary that we have seen. It should be taken as a model, and if could be added to it the number of teachers who were teaching each branch, and, as in Ohio, the number of scholars who were studying them, together with the number of school-grounds improved, and of school-rooms furnished with apparatus and decorated, it would be perfect. Three fourths of the school moneys are raised by a tax of two mills, and “this does not meet with one tithe of the opposition that the old plan of township taxation always encountered.” A capital essay on school-houses appears in this report, and the superintendent desires a law which shall enable school officers to seize land suitable for school-houses when owners without adequate reason refuse to sell. In general, the status of the New Jersey schools appears to correspond to that of the schools of her great neighbors, New York and Pennsylvania. We confess to an astonishment that for the first or highest grade of teacher’s certificates, no knowledge of general history is required, and that candidates of sixteen years old are permitted to apply for certificates of the third grade.

When we turn to the reports of the local officers of the Middle States upon their public schools, we do not find that insight into their defects which the longer and greater prevalence of academic education in southern New England has conferred upon the school committees and superintendents of that section. “ The schools are improving,” or “ Our schools are flourishing,” or “ Upon the whole,—County will probably rank as well as any of her sister counties in education,” are the frequent verdicts. And as the commendation is very similar, so may the complaints of one be said to be the complaints of all : 1st. The teachers are poorly qualified. 2d. They are changed too often. 3d. The attendance of pupils is irregular. 4th. Textbooks are not uniform. 5th. Parents are neglectful. 6th. State taxes should he apportioned according to the percentage of attendance, and not in proportion to the number of taxables.

Graded schools and a compulsory attendance law are almost universally advocated, and uniformity of text-books is much dwelt upon ; but, as New England has found out, the shortest way to arrive at this latter is for each town to confer the use of text-books free. Then each locality will possess its own, and teachers will not be, as now, tormented with the heterogeneous text-books brought by the poorer children, while the volumes themselves can be preserved, it is found, from the pollutions now too often scribbled over them by thoughtless or vicious owners.

In Pennsylvania, the school authorities are yet so busy with the great want of decent school-houses, that nothing else much shares their attention. Occasionally, however, we have a sharp comment. “ The salaries of the teachers, like all salaries pertaining to the system, barely sustain life.” “ It is a very simple sum in proportion. Double the salaries and you double the efficiency of the teachers,” “ One hindrance to the cause of common education is the lack of freedom to teachers in the control of their schools.” “ Arithmetic takes up more time than all other studies put together.” “ Upon testing our educational customs it becomes apparent that a very large number of children receive precisely the kind of training which has been bestowed upon a learned pig.” “ It is unpleasant to have a cord of wood or a ton of coal in the school-house, yet some teachers prefer it to digging these articles from the snow.” “ There is no class of persons so badly paid as teachers.”

From Ohio we hear that “ local examinations work badly, and certificates are often given to worthless and sometimes to immoral teachers.” “ Teachers have no general information.” Teachers are poor; they are young and inexperienced, and their pay is too small for us to hope for better.”

The New York county reports abound in appeals to parents to visit the schools. Corporal punishment appears to be growing in unpopularity throughout the State, notwithstanding the doubtful benefit of its abolition in New York city. “ The wages of rural schools are so low that normal school graduates will not teach in them.” “At $5.00 a week it is in vain to lecture to

young teachers on the vast responsibility of their calling.” “At $5.50 wages a week, of which $2.50 or $3.00 must go for board, what, in the name of common-sense, is left which should induce a competent teacher to work for such pay ? ” “ Young per-

sons are allowed to teach at too early an age.” The commissioner of Saratoga County is very explicit on this point. “ A limit,” he says, “ ought to be placed by law to the age of teachers. No person is fit to teach a district school under twenty, and very few over fifty. I can safely say I have never known a teacher do well under age.” This gentleman paints the educational picture in gloomy colors. “ I find myself compelled with pain and humiliation to admit that the schools under my jurisdiction are in a deplorable condition. Extensive travel in nearly every part of the State during my term of office, intimate acquaintance with other commissioners and with large numbers of professional educators, with persistent inquiry in all available directions and upon all opportunities, force upon me the conviction that as a rule the schools throughout the State are in an equally bad condition. . . . The great reason why our schools are so poor is that the teachers are poor; and they are so from two main causes: 1st. They are not professionally educated. 2d. They are not thoroughly examined and supervised by the commissioners. Our teachers are taught wrong. They have a smattering of too many things, and a profound knowledge of too few things. A mastery of the elementary branches taught in common schools they never have.”

In New Jersey, only sixty per cent, of the children could find seats in the school buildings provided they all wanted to go, and the town which has the largest average attendance is the one which has also the largest proportional accommodation. In that State it is “ a matter of frequent comment, that while there are as many or even more families than in former years, there are fewer children.” “ Our schools as at present conducted are not suitable places for children under seven or eight years of age.” “ It is a hardship to make little children go to school a mile or two in winter. The schools arc then crowded with the older ones, and they get no benefit. The winter schooling should he for the older children, and the summer for the younger, since in summer a large proportion of the former are kept at home by the avocations of the farm.” “ How is it that clergymen so seldom visit the schools ? In five years I have had only two visits from clergymen in my school, unless by invitation. Religion and education must go together.” Doctors and clergymen being the natural guardians of the public health and morals, our own view is, that if the settled pastors and the practicing physicians of good standing in each community, together with its ablest teachers of both sexes, could sit on the school boards ex officio, we should then, in the simplest possible way, enlist for the continual perfecting of our public school system the best effort of our most responsible citizens.

To sum up : the study of German is far more prevalent throughout the Middle States than in New England. Music and drawing, though not obligatory, are taught, or at least practiced, in many schools. Mental arithmetic and English grammar still hold thenpernicious places, though the drill in them is not perhaps so malignant as with us, and the absurdities of “ local ” history and geography are being given over. (Fancy being set to study the History of Vermont or the History of Maine, while wholly ignorant of the history of the human race !)

In short, the Middle States, if they have more to learn with regard to public school education than New England, have probably also less to unlearn, for the childish mind is better off, i. e., in a healthier state, with no analysis of rules at all, than with the analysis run mad which has so much inspired what may not disrespectfully be termed the Yankee pedagogy.

— A French-German Dictionary is not a book that will be of very great service to a large number of the readers of this maga-’ zine, but any who have occasion to use one will be glad to have their attention turned to Dr. Charles Sachs’s Dictionnaire Français et Allemand. In many ways this dictionary is a very remarkable work. It is very complete; under almost every word we find proof that the author has pursued his own investigations, instead of copying blindly from other dictionary-makers ; and the system of arranging his material is most ingenious. In the first place, indication of the way in which the word is used is given by a very simple method : a small comet expresses that the word is rare; an open book, that it is a scientific word ; a gallows shows that the word is slang; a cross, that it is antiquated ; an asterisk, that it is new; three crosses, that it is incorrect ; crossed swords, that it is used only in military words, etc. The etymology of every word is given, and then come the German equivalents in the usual way, only in rather better order. The volume after all consists of less than sixteen hundred pages. It will be good news to many that the same publishers are intending to get out a similar German and English dictionary. It was the author’s intention to include every French word ; below, we give a list of the words and phrases for which he can find no meaning.

A jambes rebindaines, avoir le calus de scrobage aux genoux, rostuge, satanite, sexterée, tasque, tanflute, tasserollcs de vin muscat, tamne, varangue, le dernier des trestaillons, jouer àii la fayousse, fée Farfouille, lardeyre, jeu de Cachardy, coconnas, coulenr d’Antheaume, Avmerillot, Bestay, Jean d’Arcet, Besquas, ces saillies originales de flahut en gaieté, Cunier, Emma Lyonna, poudre de Goderuau, la Michodière, freguillerie (Lanterne 27), achonr, aclirone, aeroplane, s. m., aldehisq, alifane, sous-sol eu alios, ancon, bonase, cachia, cafdtaux, filles calaganes (Pascal, Lettre II.), filles asacrementaires (ibid.), papier te'ncotique (Littré), renoude de Siébold, droit de setterage, danses des piquantes et des timtiriinbas du Perou, rivet de l’eau, harengs egaves, h. pleius, virgule a la Mazarin, careaveau, carmentrau, jambon au eincarat, tarole, tarbouche, danseuse brillant plus par le taquete que par le parcours et le ballon, les tartailles (V. Hugo, L’Homme qui rit, 2, 84), ce que les Capitulaires de Charlemagne appellent des tempestaircs (Souvest re, Paysans, 17), il disait avec le professeur sebusien, que les bonnes ehoses sont pour les bonnes gens (Phys. du Gout, Meditation 29), Scliubry (hero d’un Vaudeville). De plafond etait de forme tambon (Homme, etc., 3, 280), spélican (Villon), toiles vclines (pour faire les billets de banque), vatterungues (in. on f.), le Comte Sissonne, le pere Tripoli, tradillon (une etofle), triveline de soie (V. Hugo, Homme, etc., 2, 270), tracanas, trieotez (ancienne danse, Grondeur) soupireau (et fournier),les vaudes (Rev. 15 Nov. 1867, p.463), vaudéisme, drap d’Usseau, suédois de fruits glaces, vaudeville poursuite, ventregoulette anglaise (habit d’homme).

Any one who can throw any light on these dark words and phrases will aid in the completion of an excellent dictionary, as well as secure the gratitude of its compiler, by sending the information to the office of this magazine, whence it will be transmitted to Dr. Sachs.

  1. In New England, exclusive of Massachusetts, the average to every enrolled child is about $11.